The Snail Archangel
We humans spend our hours crawling along the roads of the world, and do we leave behind more than drool? If we measure the hours of humans, there is much more mediocrity in them than heroism. And how much fear dominates us! How many times would we corner ourselves within ourselves if we had that protective shell in which to take refuge!?
There is an old oriental fable that tells of the arrival of a snail to Heaven. The little animal had been crawling for miles and miles from the ground, leaving a trail of slime on the roads and also losing pieces of its soul due to the effort.
When he reached the very edge of Heaven’s doorway, Saint Peter looked at him with compassion. He caressed it with the tip of his cane and asked: “What are you looking for in the Heaven, little snail?”
The little animal, raising its head with a pride that could never have been imagined in it, replied: “I come to seek immortality.” Now Saint Peter laughed frankly, albeit tenderly, and he asked, “Immortality? And what will you do with immortality?”
“Don’t laugh”, the snail said now angrily. Am I not also a creature of God, like the archangels? Yes, that’s what I am, the snail archangel!”
Now Saint Peter’s laugh became a little more malicious and ironic: “Are you an archangel? The archangels wear golden wings, silver shield, flaming sword, red sandals. Where are your wings, your shield, your sword and your sandals?”
The snail proudly raised its head again and replied: “They are inside my shell. They sleep. Are waiting.”
“And what are they waiting for, if it can be known?” Argued Saint Peter.
“They are waiting for the big moment,” replied the mollusk. The Heaven keeper, thinking that our snail had suddenly gone mad, insisted: “What great moment?”
“This one”, replied the snail, and when he said it he took a great leap and crossed the lintel of the gate of Paradise, from which they could never throw him out.
Translated and adapted from Razones para la esperanza (José Luis Martín Descalzo, 1991).